The more I use Deep Learning, the more I am amazed by it. Some things which would be hard to do programmatically are easy with the right Neural Network. It feels like we are just starting to scratch the possibilities.
Today I was at a Computation meets Data Science Conference, organised by Wolfram Research and the CQF. There were some interesting talks. The ones I enjoyed the most used Mathematica to analyse data in real time in interesting ways. It looks like Mathematica has good support for building neural networks now. I was impressed at how quickly Jon Macloone from Wolfram was able to get some quite useful neural network models up and running. Jon made the point that for some problems you are able to get results really quickly with neural nets, and others it’s really hard to get good results, and it’s not obvious which problems are which.
I read this post on QUIC over at LWN. QUIC is a protocol that multiplexes network connection streams on top of UDP (to get through routers). I had no idea that it was actively used in production with YouTube! Apparently the YouTube mobile app uses QUIC for streaming videos. According to Jana Iyengar (from Google) around 35% of outbound traffic is happening using QUIC.
My new Amazon Spot was delivered yesterday. It is a round Alexa device with a small screen that lives in the bedroom and acts like an alarm clock that you can shout at. We have a number of other Alexa devices, although this is the only one with a screen. It is great to be able to ask Alexa for the news in the morning and get a video feed from the BBC. First impressions are very positive, although it was quite expensive given that an Echo Dot is about £30.
I just formed the company “Hi-Tech Nomad Ltd”. I have had the domain for forever, and have always wanted to do something with it. I have the twitter handle @hitechnomad, and lots of other social media assets. My plan is to provide information, goods and resources for “digital nomads” – those people who travel and work on things that are location independent.
I just bought myself the latest Apple Watch! I had the original one – the Series 0 – and just upgraded to the Series 3 (without cellular support). I use my watch all the time – I keep track of my heart rate, exercise, and it is my main interface to my phone when I am out and about.
There is a great post over at Charlie Stross’ Blog that gives the text of his keynote at the 34th Chaos Communication Congress in Leipzig, December 2017. He makes some interesting points about old, slow AI – i.e. corporations, and compares them to cannibalistic organisms that shed people like cells. He talks about the ways the standard limiter of regulation are failing (regulatory capture and regulatory lag). He ends with a fairly negative assessment of where we are heading. It’s a thought-provoking talk, and well worth reading / watching.
I am currently experimenting with coding using a Vortex Pok3r Mechanical Keyboard. I’m not sure whether it was a good buy or not. My rationale was that has a programmer, my keyboard is my primary tool, and it makes sense to have the best that I can get. I quite like the action of the keyboard, but it is too early yet to tell whether it is making me more productive or not.
I finally took the plunge and bought a pair of Air Pods. So far I quite like them (although it’s only been a few hours). I quite like the way that you can pause the track you are listening to simply by taking one headphone out of your ear. Playback resumes when you put it back in your ear. They are quite expensive though, and I’m fairly sure that I will lose them unless I develop a routine way of storing them.
Back in the late 80’s/early 90’s, I used to argue that programmers should do their coding on an 8086 machine, an IBM XT for example, rather than something more powerful like a 286. My argument was that by using a slow machine, you had the same user experience as your average user, and you could optimize the program appropriately.